Soitec hits 38.9% with four-junction CPV cell

Soitec’s SmartCells have continued their evolution, with a four-junction cell pushing efficiency boundaries. Soitec claims the result is a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) world record.

The company integrated the four-junction SmartCell into its existing CPV platform. The cell has an aperture area of 812cm2, with the module itself using 36 concentrating lenses, along with “secondary optical elements,” according to Soitec.

The growth of CPV technology has been somewhat hampered by rapid cost reductions in traditional PV modules, although in space constrained, high irradiation environments, it may still present advantages.

Soitec itself announced this year that it was turning its primary attention to its core semiconductor business, and away from solar. Despite this, it has retained its solar assets and has continued to progress the technology, as the announcement made today attests. CPV technology and project developers SolFocus and Greenvolts failed in 2013.

"The SmartCell paves the way for further cost reductions in solar energy, as it can be integrated in a record-efficiency CPV module suitable for mass production,” said Paul Boudre, Soitec CEO “This project demonstrates Soitec’s leadership in the field of innovative semiconductor materials and technologies dedicated to high-performance applications as well as our ability to achieve major breakthroughs."

Before assembly into the CPV module, the four-junction cell itself achieved a conversion efficiency of 46%. The efficiency records were measured in testing by Fraunhofer ISE.